By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
More than 500 people gathered at the Crown Plaza Hotel, 820 Phillips Lane, March 5 to celebrate the 29th annual African-American Leadership Awards Banquet.
The event — sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry (OMM) — honored 15 adults and 13 young people for their work and leadership in the African-American community.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who spoke near the end of the evening, noted that this was his ninth year attending the event and said he always comes away inspired, especially by the youth.
“I’m blown away that you acknowledge God in your life,” he told the young people in attendance. “I’m amazed that you speak of your church as a family of faith.”
Archbishop Kurtz also touched on the subject of racism, during his remarks. The church, he said, has spoken publicly about racism as a sin.
“We said that if you judge a person, not by the dignity with which they were born or by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin that this is a sin,” said the archbishop. “We’re still dealing with racism in insidious ways.”
After the event, M. Annette Mandley-Turner, executive director of the OMM, said the archbishop’s statement on racism “certainly provided food for thought.”
“It sent the message that racism is a sin and that we need to keep working until we eradicate it,” said Turner.
Archbishop Kurtz also held up the honorees — those from this year and from the 28 previous banquets — as faithful leaders.
“You are part of a procession going somewhere … a procession founded on dignity,” he said.
Among those honorees is Mattie Little, a member of St. Augustine Church, who was this year’s recipient of the Genevieve Boone Award. The award recognizes “trailblazers in the areas of cultural enrichment, education and formation from an Africentric perspective,” according to the OMM.
Turner described Little as “passionate about planting seeds of faith in her family and parish.” “Not only does she take time to plant seeds, but she takes time to nourish them,” Turner said.
Vanessa Griffin Campbell, director of the Office of Ministry to African-American Catholics in the Diocese of Cleveland and Antoinette Smith, a youth minister at St. Agnes Our Lady of Fatima Church in Cleveland were presented OMM’s Acacia Award, which recognizes the recipients’ years of service to the community.
Turner said that both women have made “tremendous contributions to the mission” of the OMM. Turner added that Griffin Campbell and Smith have collaborated with the OMM for about 18 years on young adult and youth ministry, such as the Kujenga Viongozi II Youth Leadership Process program, which is offered here in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Griffin Campbell has also served the OMM through her participation at the annual African-American Catholic Day of Reflection, Turner said.
Twelve other adult leaders were honored for work in their parish and local communities. They are:
Charles Dillard, William Harris and Sheila Pitts of St. Augustine; Lolita Ewing, Jessica Holman and Anna Mary Stith of St. Martin de Porres Church; John Graves of Holy Rosary Church in Springfield, Ky.; Wallace Judie of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church; Mae Laird of St. Ignatius Martyr Church; Anita Miles of Christ the King Church; Bernadette Stanley of St. Monica Church in Bardstown, Ky.; and Gloria Walker of the Church of the Epiphany.
Thirteen young people received Rodriq McCravy Awards, which grant scholarship money for recipients to use for high school and college.
The three high school students who received Rodriq McCravy Scholarship Awards are: Jared Carter, who will attend Trinity High School; MacKenzie Connor, who plans to attend Presentation Academy; and Katelyn McKinley, who will attend Mercy Academy.
College scholarships were presented to: Cory Bowman of Christ the King; Daisha Edelen and Markus Ford of Holy Rosary; Blake Harris of St. Augustine; Austin Harrison, Chavon Jackson and Michael Wright Jr. of St. Monica; Amari Hughes and Mylon Cox of St. Martin de Porres; and Jarie Newby of St. Augustine Church in Lebanon, Ky.